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Arjan Schakel: Citizen Expectations of Multi-Level Government in Norway


Arjan Schakel, Researcher at the Department of Comparative Politics, UiB, will give a 20 minute presentation on the following topic:

Citizen Expectations of Multi-Level Government in Norway

Follow this link to the presentation on Zoom.


Responsibility attribution between level of government lies at the heart of electoral accountability in multilevel electoral democracies. Citizen’s capacity to hold the appropriate level of government responsible for policy performance is often thought to be hampered by multilevel government because lines of responsibility are blurred between levels of government. Empirical tests of a ‘clarity of responsibility’ hypothesis is often difficult because responsibility attribution has different components. Individuals may expect governments to serve in those areas they are responsible for (functional responsibility attribution) or citizens may wish a particular level of government to act in a specific area (desired responsibility attribution).

Public opinion regarding which tier of government should be responsible for policy provision is hardly studied. We asked more than 1,100 Norwegian citizens to indicate whether local, regional, national or any combination of these should be responsible for the delivery of 23 policies. We find that citizen’s allocation of responsibilities convergence for policies that have a clear optimal territorial scale (e.g. kinder gardens at the local level and universities at the national level) whereas for policies that have less stringent functional characteristics (e.g. museums, public transport), the preferred allocation of responsibilities depends on where citizens live (e.g. centre-periphery, urban-rural areas). These results have important implications for the legitimacy of multilevel government as well as the capacity and eagerness of citizens to hold different levels of government (electorally) accountable.